Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
by Loving Lady
Summary: Bella brings Edward home to meet her family on Gran's birthday. They can't decide whether he is the man of Bella's dreams or someone else's! Irony, humor, romance. Canon. T for unusual situations.
Disclaimer: Author's note: This takes place between New Moon and Eclipse. Thank you to Stephenie Meyer for sharing these delightful characters. They are hers and hers alone.
"Bella, I'm heading out now," I heard Charlie call on his way out the door. "You drive carefully, and I'll see you around noon up in Olympia."
"Okay, Dad. You too." I didn't come down. I was still trying to get dressed. I wanted to be ready as soon as Edward arrived, which I knew would be almost immediately after Charlie left. For Edward, today was yet another milestone in our relationship, and he had been very eager for it to arrive. I thought he was being a tad bit ridiculous, and I had told him so, but deep down inside I had to admit that this was an important day to me, too.
I was taking Edward to his first Swan family gathering today.
This was bound to be something of a trial by fire, for me anyway. I had never brought a boy to meet my extended family before. That would immediately tip everyone off that this must be something serious, even though Charlie had never mentioned Edward to any of them. I think he was still hoping that if he didn't acknowledge Edward's and my relationship to anyone else that it would just fade away.
Sure enough, as soon as Charlie's car was out of the driveway, Edward's was there. He came in through the front door instead of my bedroom window, as he was wont to do. We were trying to acclimate ourselves to more conventional ways of him entering my home. "Bella, are you ready yet?" I hurried down the flight of stairs where he was waiting with open arms. I wrapped my arms around his neck as he gave me a soft kiss that was, as usual, too short to my liking.
"I'm as ready as I will ever be," I grumbled. "Let's get this show on the road."
I really did not see the need for us to hurry to Olympia. The trip was a three-hour drive by normal human standards, but with Edward at the wheel we would easily be there in half that time. I sighed to myself. Why he just couldn't wait to meet everyone was a mystery to me. I decided that it must be some turn-of-the-century thing. "So," Edward asked with a smile in his voice, "How many Swans will there be waiting to ambush us?"
"Well, let's see." I started ticking off names in my head. "Counting all my aunts and uncles that will be dropping by at some point during the day you'll probably get to meet at least six of them. And Charlie is driving over to Milston to pick up Gran's Aunt Grace." Even though she was technically my grandmother's aunt, because she was her mother's youngest sister Aunt Grace was only eight years older than my grandmother. She didn't have any other relatives still living so we made sure to include her at all our family gatherings. I had already explained to Edward that I didn't have any cousins on my dad's side of the family. "We'll be the only folks there under 40."
"You mean you will," Edward chuckled. "I'm glad that you included me on this special day." This was a special day for my family. It would be by anyone's standards, even my 108-year-old boyfriend's. We were celebrating my Grandma Swan's 88th birthday today. "Do you realize that your grandmother is only 20 years younger than me? Technically I'm closer to her age than yours."
"Technically," I agreed with a smirk, and then laughed, "But don`t get any ideas. You`re already taken, and I`m not willing to share you with anyone, not even my grandmother!"
A mock solemn look came upon his face. "I promise. No flirting with any grandmothers today."
We arrived at Gran's house outside of Olympia early of course. There were no other cars in the yard as we drove up the winding dirt-road driveway to her modest white Victorian house. It had been built before my grandmother's birth and she had lived there all of her life. "Gran's place hasn't changed since I was born," I told Edward. My mom, Renee and I had moved many times in Phoenix, always searching for a place that suited my mom's eclectic tastes and my desire to find affordable rent. And although I had visited Charlie's house almost every summer, it never gave me the sense of permanence that my grandmother's did. I visited her many times over the years; spending part of my summers there and holidays every other year with my dad.
"It actually reminds me of my childhood home in Chicago," Edward mused. I was surprised to hear this. He often commented on how his human memories had faded since he had become a vampire and that his only solid recollections were of his mother. Of the rest of his former life he had almost no recall.
Edward parked the car and walked around at a human pace to open my door. It wouldn't do for him to be caught using his vampire speed today. We went up the steps to the shade of a wrap-around porch. Even before we entered the house I could smell Gran's delicious cooking wafting through the open windows. "It figures that Gran would insist on cooking even though today is her birthday," I grinned. "If there was ever a day when you should regret not eating human food, today would be it."
"I don't think any human food could entice me, not even your grandmother's cooking." Edward grimaced. "I'll just take your word for it."
There was a bustle in the hallway. "Bella," my grandmother met us at the door, "Oh honey, I've missed you so much!" She wrapped her arms around me in a big hug. "You've grown so much!" I blushed. What a typical thing for my Gran to say. Edward grinned at me from behind her back.
Gran pulled away and turned to see Edward. "And who is this nice looking gentleman? Is this the young man that I've so much about?" I cringed inwardly at the thought of my mom relaying to her all of my adventures with Edward, at my expense of course. At least it gave them something to talk about for a change.
"Gran, this is Edward Cullen. We go to school together in Forks," but I knew I wasn't telling her anything that she didn't already know. And sure enough she didn't disappoint.
"Yes, Bella, I know that." She smiled. "Edward, I hear you are practically part of the family. Come here and let me give you a hug!" Before I could stop her, Gran threw her arms around Edward. He winked at me and I rolled my eyes at him. "My goodness, you're cold! Let's go on into the house and get out of this wind."
As we followed Gran into the hallway to the living room, Edward commented, "You have a lovely home, Mrs. Swan."
"Thank you," Gran replied, "but I'm afraid it is rather old-fashioned, like me," she laughed.
Edward returned her smile. "Not at all. It reminds me of my home when I was growing up." I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. It seemed he was remembering more today than I had ever heard him speak of before. I wondered if his memories were being triggered by all of the old furniture. Of course, they were just antiques to me. To him they must seem like every day furnishings.
"You two come on back to the kitchen where we can visit. I still have a cobbler to get in the oven." She grinned at us.
"Oh, you do? Can I help please?" I loved Gran's apple cobbler, and she knew it.
Gran shook her head. "No dear, that's alright. Just sit down and relax." She laughed. "Cobbler is Bella's favorite, you know."
"No, I didn't." Edward looked at me with a gleam in his eye. "I learn more about her every day." I stuck my tongue out at him.
Gran didn't miss our banter. She smiled at me. "It sounds like you have a very attentive friend here, Bella. " At my swift look, she quickly changed the subject. "So, Edward, have you lived in Forks all your life?" Like she didn't already know.
"No ma'am," Edward smoothly replied. "My family actually moved down from Alaska four years ago." He continued before my grandmother could respond. "My mother wanted to live in a small town, and my father wanted to be able to continue his practice. Forks suited both their needs." He grinned at me. "I am certainly glad it did."
"I'm glad to hear it." Gran cocked her head to one side. "Bella, sounds like your dad is here with Aunt Grace. Why don't you two go give him a hand getting her settled in?" Trust my grandmother to be more concerned about her elderly aunt while she herself was trying to cook dinner for a half-dozen people.
"Sure Gran," I replied. Edward and I headed back to the front hallway. Charlie was helping Aunt Grace up the porch steps. Edward held the door open. "Allow me," he said. "Good afternoon, Charlie."
"Edward." Charlie begrudgingly greeted him. It seemed Dad had decided to be civil to Edward, at least for today. Maybe he would continue his behavior after we got back to Forks. "You kids sure did make good time." He shot a sour look at Edward. "I hope you weren't speeding." Oh well, so much for any permanent improvement in Charlie's attitude.
"No Dad," I answered him with an exasperated tone in my voice. "We were just able to miss the traffic."
"Bella, aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" My Aunt Grace chimed in.
"Aunt Grace, how have you been?" I gave her a hug. "I'm sorry. This is Edward."
"Is this your friend from Forks, then? Hello there, Edward. I'm Aunt Grace. It's so nice to finally meet you!"
Edward took her proffered hand. "I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Aunt Grace." Aunt Grace simpered as he let go of her hand and I could have sworn I saw her bat her eyes at him! Goodness, Edward was certainly dazzling the Swan women today! But given the effect he had on one particular younger Swan, I guess that really should not have come as a surprise.
Other family members started arriving soon after. Greetings and introductions were repeated all around. The general consensus seemed to be that Edward was a very respectful and courteous young man that he was completely enamored with me, and, according to my aunts and grandmother, very handsome to boot. Moreover, everyone thought we made an excellent couple. Charlie, of course, was not thrilled with his family's hearty approbation of Edward. It seemed to me that he felt a sense of betrayal from his mother and the rest for so wholeheartedly making him so welcome.
Not too long after the last of my aunts and uncles arrived, Gran announced that dinner was ready. Edward and I paused outside the dining room letting everyone else go ahead and take their seats. We had discussed earlier how we would handle sitting at the dinner table along with six other people with Edward eating while not eating. As he had explained to me before, he could swallow food and retain it for short periods of time. It was uncomfortable, but not impossible.
We joined the rest of the family already seated at the table. Gran had saved a place for me next to her with Edward by my side. "I don't get to see you as much as I would like," she said, "So I'm keeping you close by me today." She looked at me lovingly. She`d always had a way of making me feel special.
The meal was wonderful. Our family chattered on, as they always did, with a dozen different conversations going on at once. Somehow it was never difficult to bounce from one conversation into another without missing a beat. Even Charlie was talkative and laughing. Edward amazed me with how he seemed to effortlessly converse with everyone while at the same time managing to pretend to eat his meal. He took conservative helpings of everything and even tried Gran's apple cobbler that she offered him. She seemed to take real delight in the fact that Edward took a large slice on his plate. I smiled at him in silent thanks as he stoically ate his portion. He gave me a playful wink, but otherwise maintained a deadpan face.
After dinner Charlie and my uncles retreated to the living room while my grandmother and aunts cleared off the table and began to do the dishes. Edward and I followed them into the kitchen to help. "Edward," Gran scolded, "You're supposed to just go relax with the other men. We'll take care of everything in here." Gran saw my look of concern. "Don't worry Bella," she laughed, "Edward will be fine. He proved at dinner he could handle himself with our family. Go on now. We'll be out in a bit." Edward smiled as my grandmother summarily dismissed him and quietly left the room.
"Okay, now Bella, we want to hear what's really going on with you two," my Gran said as she handed me a dishtowel and I started to dry. My aunts putting away the dishes noticeably perked up at the opportunity to hear fresh gossip.
"Well, there really isn't much to tell. We met in school on my very first day." I tried to come up with something I could say that wouldn`t sound like I was totally crazy, because, after all, there was no way that I could tell the truth: Well Gran, you see, he saved me from a vampire in Phoenix last year...and then he introduced me to a bunch of bloodthirsty vampires in Italy. None of that really seemed like appropriate after-dinner conversation with your grandmother.
Gran smirked at me. "Your mother said you have a very "intense" relationship. She seems to believe that you two are pretty serious." I blushed as I picked up another plate to dry.
"Bella, where is Edward from originally?" I then noticed Aunt Grace sitting at the kitchen table. She spoke in a very soft voice. I remembered she hadn't been her usual gregarious self during the meal either. Her question startled me. "Charlie said he and his brothers and sisters are all adopted. Is that true?"
"Yes, Dr. and Mrs. Cullen adopted Edward, his brother, Emmett, and sister, Alice, and took in Mrs. Cullen's niece and nephew after their parents died." I hesitated. Should I tell her where Edward was really from? I didn't see any harm in it. "Edward grew up in Chicago. His parents died when he was fairly young. He hardly has any memories of them."
Aunt Grace considered the information I had just given her. "Margaret, where are your photo albums? You know the one that has the pictures from when your mama and I were in school?"
Gran thought for a moment. "I believe it's in the bookcase in my room. Bella can you go get it? It's the red leather one."
I went to her bedroom and quickly found the red album. I brought it back to the kitchen and gave it to my aunt. Gran and I sat down with her. Aunt Grace quickly flipped through the pictures, not bothering to look at most of them. She finally stopped at a page. "Look at this one, Bella," she quietly said. "This is my wedding picture."
I stared amazed as I took in the people in the photograph. The bride was obviously my aunt. But the groom...the groom was Edward.
Well, not exactly Edward. Maybe Edward 20 years older than he currently looked, but it was still uncanny. "Aunt Grace, is that Uncle William?"
"No, I married Uncle William in 1945 after the war ended. This is my first husband, Jonathan."
"Your first husband?" I had no idea that Aunt Grace had been married before.
"Jonathan died in 1943. He was only 46. He died in his sleep right next to me." Aunt Grace said with a quiet sigh.
I stared at the picture, shocked. "This is amazing. This could be Edward's father."
"I know. I noticed the resemblance the moment I saw him."
Gran nodded her head in agreement. "Something was tugging at the back of my mind when I saw him, too. Now I realize it was because he looked so much like Jonathan." She paused, then added, "He had the most beautiful green eyes. Of course, that is where Edward looks different. Not that he isn't handsome, Bella," she said for my benefit, "I think he has lovely eyes too. That unusual golden color, you know."
"Do you see why I wanted to show you this, Bella?" my aunt asked. "Especially after you said he was originally from Chicago. Jonathan was also from Chicago."
I was getting a nagging suspicion in my gut. "Aunt Grace, what was...Uncle…" it was difficult for me to even think, much less say the word, "Jonathan's last name?"
"Masen. Jonathan Masen."
I had to ask the next question. "Who were his family?"
Aunt Grace shook her head. "He didn't really talk about them much. He said he ran away from home when he was just sixteen. From what I gathered, he had a bad relationship with his father."
My head was swirling. This was obviously too much to be just a coincidence. "Wow," I said for lack of a better word, "This is really weird. Can I go show this to Edward? I'm sure he would really like to see it."
I went and found Edward in the living room easily conversing with my uncles. Even my dad had seemed to thaw a little, seeing that Edward was being so cordial. I stood in the doorway and caught Edward's eye. He came over to me with a smile. "Do you have everything under control in the kitchen, or did you need me to come back and supervise?"
I hissed at him, "Just come outside for a second. I need to talk to you."
He followed me out to the porch, a puzzled look on his face. "Is anything wrong?"
"You tell me." I handed him the photo album, opened to the page with the wedding picture on it. "What do you make of this?"
Edward took in the photograph for a few moments. A brief shadow fell across his face followed by a serious, yet sincere smile. "Jonathan," he whispered.
"Who is he?" I asked. The suspense was killing me.
"This is my older brother, Jonathan. He left home when he was sixteen." He seemed like he was trying to remember something. "Jonathan. I was just thirteen years old."
"Your brother?" I didn't know what answer I was expecting from him, but not that! "You never mentioned you had a brother."
Edward seemed the closest to being at a loss for words as I had ever seen him. "It was so long ago...he left before we fell ill, before I was turned..." His voice trailed off.
I was stunned. "What happened?"
Edward was quiet as he absorbed the image in front of him. "He and my father argued. I can't remember about what." He paused. "My mother was heartbroken."
"And you never knew what became of him?"
"No." He continued to look at the picture, mesmerized. "It seems like something from a dream."
This was just too bizarre. "I think Aunt Grace thinks he is your long-lost uncle or something." What were the odds that something like this could have occurred?
That awoke Edward out of his reverie. "What was she able to tell you about him?"
"She said that they were married, that," I nodded towards him, "he had run away from home, and that he died in 1943." I knew his next question. "They didn't have any children."
"I can't believe I had completely forgotten I ever had a brother," Edward said with a note of sadness in his voice. As he set the album down I could see the sorrow that was evident on his face.
I took Edward in my arms. "If we didn't live in a world with hundred-year-old vampires walking around, I wouldn't believe it either." It felt unusual for me to be the comforter, rather than him consoling me.
I could tell Edward was still processing all the information. Even though my brain was still pondering this incredible turn of events, it jumped to the question that was now foremost in my mind. What, if anything, was this going to do to us? "Edward, what does this all mean?"
He stopped and looked at me, a puzzled look on his face. "Mean?" I hadn't noticed that Edward and I had been walking around the yard all this time. I realized that we had stopped under a big shade tree not far from the end of the driveway.
I hesitated. "For us? What does it mean for us?"
Edward looked at me thoughtfully. "Why does it have to mean anything?"
"Doesn't this make us...well, sort of...related?" I didn't like saying it out loud. Just hearing the words disturbed me. I wondered what the 'ewwww' factor was relating to dating someone you were related to, however distant they might be.
Edward chuckled. "I think that might be stretching things." Did he have a twinkle in his eye? "Let me see. My long-lost brother was married to your great-great aunt over 75 years ago. Have I got that right?"
I pursed my lips. "I guess that's right." To me this seemed to be exactly the kind of thing that would rock Edward's world. "And that doesn't bother you?"
Edward put his arms around my waist and replied with a smile in his voice. "Bother me?" He shook his head. "Aside from the fact that it seems like fate is always trying to separate us one way or another? On the contrary, I am glad we found out about it."
I leaned my head against Edward's chest. "Really?" I could hear the doubt in my voice.
"Absolutely." He sighed and gently kissed the top of my head. "Today I found out I had a brother." He pulled me a little closer. "This has been quite an eventful day for us, hasn't it?"
"Very educational." I looked up at him. "I was wondering, why are you a junior and not your older brother?"
"I believe he was named after my grandfather." Edward paused. "My mother's father was named Jonathan."
That sounded reasonable. I thought of another question. "Do you think being around older people like my Gran helps trigger memories of your past life or something?"
Edward considered that for a moment. "It certainly doesn't hurt." He took my hand. "We should come back more often."
"I'd like that." We walked arm in arm up towards the house. "After all, who wouldn't want to be with the two people that make you feel like you are the most loved in the whole world?"